The cameras went offline after the city decided to not continue paying the manufacturer, PackeTalk, to maintain the system. The decision was apparently at the behest of a state fiscal monitor who had control of the city’s finances at the time, said city spokesman Juan Melli. Melli also told NBC that an engineer brought in to look at the cameras said they weren’t worth maintaining.
The same company has installed cameras in several nearby towns like Guttenberg, and they have helped the police catch criminals.
It’s possible that if the cameras had been in operation, they might now be able to help police trace the movements of the missing jogger, Andrew Jarzyk, on Sunday night. A private security camera caught Jarzyk running onto Pier A Park at 2:09 a.m. this past Sunday, but there is so far no evidence Jarzyk ever exited the pier.
Neither Melli nor PackeTalk’s founder, Tamer Zachary, could tell NBC why the cameras were not replaced. The report said that between 2004 and 2009, the city paid the company between $30,000 and $40,000 a year to maintain them.
“They always paid for the cameras through grants but when it came time to pay their maintenance fees, they decided to stop paying,” Zachary told NBC, adding that he wasn't sure why the city stopped paying.
Melli said the city is working on procuring a new security camera system. The system could be funded by a FEMA Port Security grant if the city council votes to accept the grant at an upcoming meeting.
Melli said that the city began applying for grants to replace the cameras soon after the old contract ended.
“We started applying for grants in 2010. It’s not that we haven’t made it a priority,” he said. – Dean DeChiaro